The Cardinals Major League Notebook 04/25

Right-hander Ryan Franklin worked a hitless ninth, posting his fifth save in five attempts.

First baseman Albert Pujols, who has had eight straight seasons of at least a .300 average, 30 home runs and 100 runs batted in, seems determined to add 30 stolen bases to that mix.

After singling with one out in the eighth against Chicago righty Carlos Marmol, who has been extremely difficult for Pujols, the Cardinals' slugger stole second base, giving him three stolen bases in his last three games. Pujols then scored the winning run on a single up the middle by Ryan Ludwick as the Cardinals beat the Cubs, 4-3, for their eighth straight win at home.

Before Thursday, Pujols never had stolen bases in back-to-back games before, let alone three games in succession.

"It's a great attempt," said Tony La Russa of Pujols' steal. "You've got Marmol, who's tough to score on. If they throw (Pujols) out, so what? If you stand around waiting to get three hits, we'd still be playing."

Though he got no decision, Adam Wainwright pitched by far his best game of the year. Wainwright, who had walked 12 in 16 1/3 innings over his first three starts, passed just one in seven innings Friday and blanked the Cubs on four hits for six innings until Chicago scored three runs, two of them unearned, in the seventh.

"That was more like it," said Wainwright. "I was making my pitches all night."

La Russa said, "He was outstanding. I know he's upset that three runs somehow got on the board. It was a tough no-decision but he contributed mightily to us winning that game."

After a dropped fly ball by left fielder Skip Schumaker, who had just moved to the outfield from second base in the seventh, loaded the bases with no one out, Wainwright got a ground-ball double play on Cubs shortstop Ryan Theriot, one of the toughest players to double up in the National League. The tying run scored on the play but Wainwright had staved off major damage.

CARDINALS 4, CHICAGO 3: The Cardinals have a four-game winning streak overall and their longest home winning streak (eight) since late in the 2004 season. Ryan Ludwick, 10-for-19 with men in scoring position, delivered again with a run-scoring single to plate Albert Pujols in the eighth, breaking a 3-3 tie. And the Cardinals, who struggled with their bullpen in the first couple of weeks of the season, appear to have found their closer. Right-hander Ryan Franklin worked a hitless ninth, posting his fifth save in five attempts.


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